At Least 26 Killed By High-Voltage Power Cable Collapse in DRC

At least 26 people died on Feb. 2 when an overhead high-voltage power cable snapped and fell into a drainage ditch at a market in the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Charles Mbutamuntu, the spokesperson for the provincial government of capital Kinshasa, told AFP News that the live end of the cable fell into a ditch filled with water after the morning rain, electrocuting at least 26 people at a food market in the Matadi-Kibala district.

Mbutamuntu said that most of those killed were traders and customers while some were passers-by.

“The bodies are being taken to the morgue and an investigation has been opened to establish responsibility,” Mbutamuntu said.

It is not yet clear what caused the cable to break, but national electricity company SNEL said in a statement that it believed a lightning strike had severed part of the cable.

DRC President Felix Tshisekedi visited the site of the incident and met with local officials and witnesses “to better understand the circumstances and causes of this tragedy and to ensure that it never happens again.”

“All the light will be shed on the causes of this tragedy and those responsible will have to answer for it,” the presidency said on Twitter.

The Presidency also noted that Tshisekedi instructed the government in January the “rapid relocation of the Matadi Kibala market in view of the danger that its current location represents for the population.”

Several districts in the capital are prone to flooding due to poorly maintained colonial-era drainage systems.

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